Penguin Nesting Habitat Alive and Well
Trip Start Feb 13, 2012
1Trip End Ongoing
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Where I stayed
Penguin Book Archives, University of Bristol
What I did
Every Penguin Book Ever Published since 1935
Awaking yesterday morning we hiked up the hill in Bristol to the University's Arts and Social Sciences Library. This library houses EVERY Penguin book from 1935 to current times published by Penguin Books UK. That in itself was quite a daunting thought. There are metres and metres of storage for these books. Upon arriving and signing in we noticed a familiar name written above my name. A fellow Penguin Collector who I have only recently begun to correspond with from England was celebrating her birthday and her gift from her husband was a visit to the archives
We met Hannah the curator of the archives who was also lovely and I am not sure if she was just a bit dazed by all the Penguin fanatics standing before her or if we really did look like the solid standing upright folks we claimed to be, but she said magic words to us. " I am going to let you loose in the stacks". She opened the huge compactus files and there on the wall was a glossy photo of Allen Lane, founder of Penguin books in the early 1930's staring at us and the first 1000 published Penguin books signed by the authors/editors. I loved looking through the books, selecting special ones of interest, carefully opening them to see the author's inscriptions and signatures of Hemingway, Faulkner, Ionesco, Steinbeck, Graham Greene, everyone I could think of. To know these authors held, autographed and wrote the books I was holding proved to me that the world really is less than 6 degrees of separation. Then Hannah began pulling out the file boxes of ephemera I had never heard of much less seen, the business letters typed with very old manual typewriters that underpinned the development of the people and company
Three hours later we left the building full of ourselves, with books swirling through our heads as well as reflecting upon the inner promises of the blogs we will write, the adoration we will continue for our pocket sized books and new found friends all because of a little orange book. I felt like I was in a parallel universe.
We calmed ourselves by sitting on the stoop in front of one of the many beautiful churches in Bristol eating hot pastieson our way back to the hotel.
Our VIP Penguin man had been so kind as to invite us to his beautiful home high on a hillside overlooking Bath and his wife delivered a lovely meal along with some good red wine and the conversation was nothing but Penguin Books. We discusses which ones are rare, common, quirky, misprinted, great to read, awful to read plus much more trivia
We were then introduced to his absolutely stunning collection of the first 1000 Penguins (all firsts) from 1935. He continues to need one book to complete the first 1001 books as there is a No 6 A which is the one book I really want to own. (I wonder if our VIP mate has checked his collection yet this morning?? ) We will continue to look for his elusive book No. 433, Speedy Death, a green Penguin by Gladys Mitchell. We also got to visit the basement of his business where there were yet more hundreds of books to buy from him at very reasonable prices as well as catching up with back issues of the publications of the Penguin Collector's Society. Do I dare say we are now travelling with yet another 50 books??
If only the human body was not made up of creaky joints life would be so much easier. We are on our way to the Exeter post office to post everything from yesterday. Should be a snap, except I have just been told we are on the wrong train!!